8 Insights Teens Share Can Help Parents Trust Their Teens
"I have to remind myself that some birds aren't meant to be caged; their feathers are just too bright." ~ The Shawshank Redemption
When it comes to teens, parents often seek the help and insight of adult friends, co-workers, family members, wise councils, and professionals. At times, the wise council of those in the thick of things, teens themselves, can shed light on what for them makes a difference.
According to a small survey provided to teens ages 14 - 16, adolescents suggest that:
Parents can trust their kids more. Surveyed teens shared that they know their parents distrust in their words. "Parents can put trust in their kids when the kid goes to a party, and the mom and dad can trust that they will not do anything stupid like drink or smoke." The teen stated that it is evident when mom and dad lack faith in their child's ability to make sound decisions simply by observing certain characteristics. For example, a parent's "tone," "look," "stare," and comments like "um-hmmm," are clear indicators that trust is missing. Teens reported this only influences them not to want to share with parents, and ironically, learn to mistrust the parent in return.
"The mom or dad can try to become a kid and relate to the kids." Straight out of the horse's mouth. Teens want parents to remember the various emotions, thoughts, confusion, elation, curiosity, and dreams that we as adolescents regularly -in fact- experience daily. Does that mean hanging out at the mall with your teen and their friends and repeatedly saying the word "like," no, it means every once in a while, allow yourself to recall what it was like to be a teen and how you responded each time an adult tried to teach a lesson (a.k.a. give a speech), rather than take the time to learn about the teen's inner world.
"Be nice and calm even when they are mad because being mad makes the kid mad. If the parent is having a bad day, they shouldn't take it out on the kids because it's not their fault." Most of us who live in the adult world understand this concept all too well. That boss walks in with a sour look on their face. Barks orders. Demands much more than your employee salary. Says one thing, then recants and says something like, 'I never said to do it like that, I said to do it this way' halfway through the completion of your project or task. Likewise, our teens often get the brunt of parents' stress in the real world. Leave your hard day at work at the door for five minutes before entering your home. Do not allow your grumpy boss to take away the good and love you can give and receive among family and friends. In those moments, your teen will likely notice and seek you out rather than roll their eyes and turn away from you.
"Always tell their kid they are good enough and never put them down, back to that parental speech that comes from a genuine place of trying to help and prepare your teen. Theoretically, speeches are positive. They can motivate, inspire, warn, prepare and bring tears to our fellow mankind. In the home, not so much. During a teen's developmental stage, parents' speeches come off as nagging, critical, unfair, and unrelated to what they are going through. You remember you were once that teen who at some point, your parents' speeches often led you to think they didn't really know you; judged you; pressured you; and maybe led you to believe they did not love you. Yes, all of that is from a speech. As heard often enough, speeches become a drawn-out, non-motivating set of words that leave your teen feeling helpless ever to please you or be accepted for who they are still in the process of becoming; rather than speeches, transition to having more conversations. It works!
Support what their kid likes and wants to do in life." Parents only sometimes need to teach. Sometimes, a simple cheer and 'I believe in you' is all your teen needs.
Let the kid be a kid, and let them go out and have fun." In moderation, create a balance between structure, rules, and expectations, and the time your teen can continue developing social skills among peers. This allows them to practice problem-solving, assertiveness, and trust in themselves.
"Always listen to the kid's point of view when talking instead of shutting it down. If you are talking to your kid because your child did something wrong, you should give your child a chance to express their point of view, so then parent and kid can be on the same page." Enough said.
And most importantly, always love your kid no matter what and be on their side; always defend them and talk about right or wrong in private. Yes, please, guide your child to think conscientiously. But leave it behind closed doors. Correcting in public can humiliate a teen and create deep anger and resentment towards you, the parent.
Being a teen is complicated. You can help your teen unravel the many mysteries of life by simplifying how you communicate with them. Don't stress too much about how many words are needed to set your teen in the right direction. Instead, trust in your love, positive intentions, and the fact that your teen desires you to listen, understand, empathize, and remember what it's like to be them. You can be their biggest hero not by holding their hand but by walking along their side, facing the world together.
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